Cinnamon Might Make Us Better Learners
Mice who ate cinnamon showed improved memory, learning
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2016 11:41 AM CDT
Mmm cinnamon bun.   (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

(Newser) – Scientists say they've discovered "one of the safest and the easiest approaches to convert poor learners to good learners." And all you have to do is eat cinnamon. Researchers at Rush University Medical Center say that feeding cinnamon to mice with a poor learning ability turned them into a bunch of brainiacs by transforming the part of the brain that controls memory. Previous research has found poor learners have less of a protein vital to memory and learning, known as CREB, and more of a protein known as GABRA5 in the hippocampus. However, poor-learning mice showed increased CREB and decreased GABRA5 after a month of daily cinnamon doses, study author Kalipada Pahan explains in a release. Essentially, the body converts cinnamon into sodium benzoate, which promotes healthy neurons, reports the Epoch Times.

The mice were then able to navigate a maze in half the time it took them before, even though the exit moved with each test. The ability was similar to that of so-called good-learning mice. Mice who were given cinnamon but were already good learners, however, didn't exhibit any change. "We have successfully used cinnamon to reverse biochemical, cellular, and anatomical changes that occur in the brains of mice with poor learning," says Pahan, adding "if these results are replicated in poor learning students, it would be a remarkable advance." Interestingly, Pahan notes cinnamon is superior to straight doses of sodium benzoate because the chemical is slowly released from cinnamon but is "quickly excreted out through the urine" when taken on its own. (This doesn't mean you should take the cinnamon challenge.)